OK, really and truly now, our daughter is attending daycare. We’ve navigated from my wife’s return to work a couple of weeks ago, where she (my wife) had to cope with letting the baby out of her sight for the majority of a waking day yet knew she (the baby) was safe at home all the time with Nana; to a couple of acclimating drop-ins at the daycare center of no more than an hour or so; to a slightly truncated day at daycare on Tuesday which ended when I picked up both kids a couple hours early (which involved leaving work about two and a half hours early, something I’m going to be hustling to make up for over the rest of the pay period, but it was worth it); to finally yesterday which was the first of many essentially typical days of daycare, the kids dropped off in the morning (on the early side, even, as that’s how Wednesdays have to go given my wife’s work schedule) and not fetched out again until 5:30 or so. And as I predicted, once again the little girl was pretty mellow about the whole thing and no calamitous maladjustment has been reported.
(I know I covered the same basic material yesterday but there’s a very good chance that my mother-in-law skipped reading the Wednesday post in its entirety because it was are-you-kidding-me another He-Man diatribe, so the preceding was mostly for her catch-up benefit.)
If I haven’t expressly said it before, I don’t think of daycare as a necessary evil, or evil of any sort. I’m not even neutral on it, or silver-lining-seekingly optimistic; I genuinely believe it’s a good thing. I like that it socializes children with other children, and exposes their tiny immune systems to creeping cruds they might as well toughen up against while also giving them opportunities to develop mentally and emotionally with their peers. I like that, when it starts before they can even walk or talk or focus more than 12 inches away from their eyeballs, it turns “school” into something that’s always been a part of their lives since before they can remember, a reason to get out of bed and get dressed and leave the house, which on the one hand gives them something in common with mom and dad, and on the other means state-mandated kindergarten in a couple years won’t be a mind-blowing shock to their system.
So I’m not exactly torn up or sad about the transition of the little girl into daycare, multiple running starts notwithstanding. Everything’s going according to plan. But in a larger sense, it is another step away from that magical timeless moment of baby’s entrance into the world. It does bring to mind that kindergarten is around the corner and five years can go by in a flash (indeed almost 60% of that has gone by for the little guy already) and time keeps on slippin’, slippin’. It’s not so much where we are that gets to me, it’s just the knowledge that for good or bad there’s no turning back, ever. At least that's the universal condition, though, so if everyone else has to deal with it the same as me I really shouldn't complain.